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What is the Income Shares Model for Child Support?

Child support after divorce was once calculated simply as a percentage of the paying parent’s income. However, this method failed to take into account the resources of the other parent that could be applied for the children’s benefit. As a result, most states, including Michigan, now follow the “income shares” model, which recognizes that both parents have a duty to preserve for their children a standard of living similar to what existed during the marriage.

Child support is based upon the number of overnights that the mother has and the number of overnights the father has. In addition, the parties’ net income, which includes revenue from all sources minus allowable deductions and deductions for Federal and State taxes.  Child support is then calculated pursuant to the mandatory Child Support Guidelines.

The parent paying health insurance premiums for the child does receive a credit for the amount attributable to the child. Other healthcare expenses are divided by a ratio of mother’s income to father’s income. Childcare expenses are divided the same way, after calculation of the childcare tax credit.

As the child support formula considers the number of overnights per year that each child spends with each parent, the more overnights that a parent has essentially lowers the other parent’s support obligation.

Michigan law also allows family court judges to adjust child support obligations in recognition of extraordinary circumstances. For instance, if the child has a physical or mental disability and/or requires therapy or learning assistance, the judge may increase the non-custodial parent’s share of support as long as such an increase would not cause a financial hardship. If one parent is disabled and his or her ability to make a living is impaired, that parent’s child support obligation might be reduced.  However, as a practical matter, Judge’s will rarely deviate from the Child Support Guidelines, unless both mother and father agree.

An experienced Michigan divorce attorney can help make sure your child support obligation is fair and workable, whether you are the payer or the recipient. Call Dawson Family Law, PLLC at 833-671-4445 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation at my office in Sterling Heights.

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